Single Review: Lee Ryan – ‘I Am Who I Am’

There are three kinds of ballads my friends. The first kind, favoured by the likes of Beyoncé, Adam Lambert, or Anastacia, is your typical modern power ballad. To sing this you need a great set of pipes and plenty of emotion. Then there’s the ballad that’s oh-so-softly sung by people who have, shall we say, ‘weaker’ voices. This type of emotional song is popular with Kylie, Little Boots, and Lemar, and needs something on top of sadness – the vocals need to be smothered in vulnerability and remorse, almost a kind of self-loathing also works. The final kind is the X Factor ballad, but let’s not bother with those. 

This song is the of the oh-so-soft variety. A deeply moving, piano-driven, rousing production with vulnerable lyrics and vocal performance. But wait, Lee Ryan’s no Adam Lambert but he can belt out a song, so surely he’d want to sing a ballad along the lines of ‘Whataya Want From Me?’, right? What’s he doing singing a song like this!? His vocals reserved, poignant, and reflective. Well I’ll tell you why – THIS is the way to pile of the vulnerability.

You see, power ballads are usually about love, and usually demonstrate the artists’ desperation for love back, whilst trying to emulate the all-important vulnerability of a similar, real-life situation. However, subliminally, something tells you these people aren’t really as vulnerable as they make out… not with a voice like that. But ‘I Am Who I Am’ is not about love, it’s about honesty, revelations, and questioning someone’s fake visage whilst ensuring that whatever you say, do, hear, Lee is going to remain who he is. And that fact the Ryan would usually sing very forcefully but is now choosing to sing quietly and reflectively shows he has come to the end of his tether – he has no more energy left to fight back with big vocals, he’s also showing that he’s not hiding the lyrics behind any fancy singing tricks – this is him as he is, just like in the title. Also this brings his vulnerability into the foreground.

Speaking of vulnerability – the video is all emotional too:


Yes I thought the same thing – if he wanted the video to bring a tear to one’s eye as easily and the song might, he should’ve worn his bruises. By this I mean when you see the eggs thrown at him, it’s a little annoying to see no signs that there were ever any eggs thrown, almost as if he popped off home and then resumed walking along a spray-painted line in the middle of the road. It’d be nice if a bit of blood was drawn, and if a few poppy bruises appeared, that would be very good as well.

Moving back to the song, the lyrics, near philosophical – “Why when you dream do you see me as something I’m not?/Why don’t you wake up and see all the good things you’ve got?/A heart isn’t made out of clay/Not something you shape with your hands”, are absolutely beautiful, and sung with perfect clarity. Touching stuff, people.

But there is a problem with the whole song, if you’re being pedantic, and that problem is that it probably won’t be picked up by Radio, for these reasons – it’s a tad dullard, quite a mellow track and the fact we’re now in the heat of the summer; ballads aren’t particularly popular at this time.

Rating: 4.0 STARS

Download: July 5, 2010 (OUT NOW)

Featured Album: ‘Confessions’

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  1. Gerard McGarry

    My normal stance on Lee Ryan is that he’s a vapid little shit. Just from general tabloid behaviour over the years, I’ve gleaned that there’s nothing likeable about him at all.

    It’s interesting that his video features him taking a hammering from various bystanders. I’m only sad I missed the casting call for that one. But startlingly, it opens you up to the song. I normally change channels whenever I see his smarmy mug, but I watched this and quite enjoyed the song. It’s deeper than I would give him credit for (i.e. he didn’t write it), but he’s got an unexpectedly good voice and if he can do a follow-up video where he gets hit by a bus, I may well buy the album.

    1. Dara Hickey

      I’ll admit I’ve never been a particular fan off Lee Ryan either, especially seeing as his last single ‘Secret Love’ was God-awful and unbearably cringy.

      This song however, as you said, is unusually likeable and is heading for the Top 40 this week, so it’s good to know that just because it’s theme is not summery, it’s still getting the recognition it deserves.

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